Executive Summary

Curtis Cheatham, Weatherford International

"The Times They Are A-Changing"

Each day brings all of us a massive amount of digital information in theform of countless emails, eBlasts, and text messages. The ease and availabilityof broadband is staggering and seductive. The digital age is fundamentally changing many important aspects of our lives. It has had a significant impacton SPE peer-reviewed journals, including SPE Drilling & Completion.Two major changes to our journal have occurred in recent years: the advent ofonline publishing, and the implementation of web-based peer review.

In 2005, SPE began publishing peer-reviewed journals in online format. Until then, all of SPE's journals had been published exclusively in print format.Today, SPE publishes seven peer-reviewed journals. Four journals, including SPE Drilling & Completion, are available both in print and online.Two journals are available online only. The seventh, Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, entered the SPE family of journals as a result of therecent merger of the Petroleum Society of Canada and SPE. Although it is currently offered only in print, an online format will also be available soon.

The existential struggle for many print publications is real. Publishers face financial pressure to drop print media. The increasing influence and availability of broadband will likely cause a continuation of the trend toward online publishing.

For readers of SPE Drilling & Completion, there are considerableadvantages for having both print and online formats. A print journalfacilitates critical reading for some of us. Its presence on your desk or bookshelf symbolizes commitment to technical excellence and our Society. An online format also has many benefits such as access to back issues, search capabilities, access to new papers in Online First before they are published in print, and the potential for online discussion of papers.

The methods of access to journals have changed for readers, but the purpose for our journals remains constant, as quoted below from "What Makes a Paper a Good Candidate for Peer Review": "The goal of the SPE's peer-reviewed technical journals is to provide the oil and gas E&P industry with a repository for knowledge and technology, the validity and usefulness of which are assured by rigorous peer review."

Each journal's editorial review committee (ERC), comprised of technical editors, associate editors, and an executive editor, implements this "rigorous peer review." ERCs are responsible for maintaining technical excellence in our journals. The high standards of peer review have remained constant over time,but the administrative process has undergone major changes in recent years.

In 2003, SPE launched the SPE Online Peer-Review System. The new system was web based, which allowed ERCs to access and share papers online using a central database. This replaced the previous process of emailing papers and reviews among ERC members.

Last year, SPE switched to a different web-based system for peer review-- ScholarOne Manuscripts.ScholarOne Manuscripts is widely used among publishers for web-based submission and peer-review workflow as it serves more than 365 societies and publishers.Although it is invisible to many readers, the new system plays an important role in assisting ERCs by providing effective and efficient tools for administrating peer review.

In conclusion, broadband has enabled major changes in SPE peer-reviewedjournals in recent years. One change is highly visible to readers--therelatively rapid increase in online journals. Currently, SPE offers more peer-reviewed journals in online format than in print. This is a significant change from six years ago when SPE offered no online journals at all. The second change--a switch to a widely used web-based peer-review system--is behind the scenes to most readers, but it helps ERCs perform essential administrative tasks.

Technical Editors and Associate Editors

We are always recruiting qualified experts to serve as technical editors inall subjects related to drilling and completion. If you are ready andwilling to provide your time to review papers for SPE Drilling &Completion, then please go to http://www.spe.org/papers/peer/ed_review_comm.phpto see if you meet the qualifications and, if so, to submit an application.Presently, we particularly need new technical editors with expertise in managed pressure drilling, cementing, and wellbore stability/geomechanics. Also, we need help from those of you who have broad field experience to review case histories.

Congratulations to Shilin Chen and John Mason who wererecently elevated from the ranks of outstanding technical editors to their newpositions as associate editors. No doubt you will recognize John as a previous executive editor of our journal. We are pleased to welcome him and Shilin. John joins Christoph Zerbst and Max Medina as AEs in charge of reviewsfor all papers falling under the broad category of completions. Shilin will manage reviews for drill bits, hole enlargement devices, and drilling dynamics and mechanics. The entire team of Associate Editors is listed at http://www.spe.org/papers/pubs/DCjournal.php.
On to the papers. This issue contains fourteen papers on the following topics:geomechanics/wellbore stability (four papers), completions (three papers),directional surveying (three papers), and four papers on general drilling.

Geomechanics and Wellbore Stability

Our first paper combines two hot topics--applied geomechanics and sand control. There are a large number of papers on geomechanics and wellbore stability published in the industry nowadays. And, we certainly see our share in peer review for our journal. Another important topic currently is sand control. An Integrated Geomechanical and Passive Sand-Control Approach to Minimizing Sanding Risk From Openhole and Cased-and-Perforated Wells combines the two topics into a paper that develops a general rock-failurecriteria as a function of far-field earth stresses, rock strength, reservoir pressure, drawdown, wellbore trajectory, and perforation orientation. It presents a method for sand-production prediction from arbitrarily oriented wells with openhole and cased and perforated completions. This is an important and timely paper.

Time-dependent wellbore stability is a well-known problem. The most common mechanisms identified are osmotic pressure, pore-pressure diffusion, and thermal diffusion. Our second paper offers a completely new perspective on wellbore-stability problems in shale. Stress-Corrosion Cracking as an Alternative Time-Dependent Shale-Stability Model proposes another possiblemechanism to explain time-dependent behavior of shale--stress-corrosioncracking (sub critical crack growth). The authors excluded classic poroelasticmechanisms and showed that material creep, as controlled by stress-corrosioncracking, was capable of explaining field observations as shown by comparison to a North Sea well. It is a novel approach that the authors conclude should provide an improved model that can capture more realistic time-dependent wellbore failure. This is definitely worth a read.

Shale Swelling, Osmosis, and Acoustic Changes Measured Under SimulatedDownhole Conditions is a bit unusual in that it was originally presented in2002. Yet, it offers new insights into an old problem--swelling and troublesome shale. The paper describes a method that offers the potential for real-time detection of shale weakening using downhole tools to measure changes in acoustic velocity. It contains a thought-provoking discussion of the impact of effective confining stress on shale swelling depending on shale type and fluid type.

Solid case histories are excellent educational tools. Real-Time Downhole Monitoring and Logging Reduced Mud Loss Drastically for High-Pressure Gas Wells in Tarim Basin, China reports a blow-by-blow study of how nonproductivetime was dramatically reduced in a complex drilling area. This paper documents development of a mechanical earth model to predict safe mud-weight windows,which were monitored in real time using logging-while-drilling and surface logging data. Results applied to the subject well demonstrated successful mitigation of the major nonproductive time problems of severe mud losses and blowouts experienced in offset wells. Guidelines and workflow have been developed for this area to mitigate mud-loss risk in future wells.


Intervention in subsea wells is an expensive proposition. This presents anopportunity for completions that provide the necessary reservoir information during production. Completion Design for Sandface Monitoring of Subsea Wells describes an innovative inductive coupling system to pass power anddata from the upper to the lower completion to deploy distributed temperaturesensing across the length of the sandface, which the authors state is an industry first for a subsea producing well.

Everyone has heard of Maersk's recent world record for ultra-extended-reachdrilling (UERD). The longest Al Shaheen well (in Qatar) currently occupies thetip of the nose in the industry "noseplot" (Fig. 3 in the paper) for UERD. Much has been published on directional drilling challenges for UERD. However,completions technology for extended-reach wells has lagged behind directional drilling capabilities, which presents challenges to operators even after a successful drilling operation. Challenges in Completing Long Horizontal Wells Selectively details issues and solutions for running long liners,effective stimulation, and completions in ultra-extended-reach wells. This paper is of interest to completions engineers and to anyone working on extended-reach wells.

Hydraulic control lines are used in surface-controlled subsurface safetyvalves and intelligent completions. Analysis of Control Lines Strapped toTubing provides a method to analyze the loads and stresses in control lines. Several examples based on field data show the utility of the new technique, including the possibility that the control line may be stressed to the point of failure before it has been used.

Directional Surveying

Effects of magnetic interference on measuring-while-drilling (MWD) azimuth measurements (which use magnetometers) have been the subject of study for decades. Magnetic Shielding During MWD Azimuth Measurements and Wellbore Positioning studies the effects of magnetite, which is an additive found insome mud weight materials, most notably hematite. Results show a strong andcomplex dependence of MWD azimuth measurements on solutions of magnetite-carrying fluids. The authors state that the degree of this effect on other likely magnetic contaminants of drilling fluids, like iron and steel,remains to be investigated.

Looking outside our industry can help shed light on our blind spots andpotentially improve the way we fundamentally approach our own problems. Thefield of astrodynamics has developed methods to predict the probability of spacecraft orbital collisions. In the oil and gas industry, unplanned well collisions have been the subject of considerable investigation. A New Look at Wellbore-Collision Probability draws on previous work from both the oilfield and aerospace industries in developing what the author says is a morerigorous assessment of collision probability.

A key to avoiding unplanned wellbore collisions is to develop and use thebest possible estimation of the position of wellbores. The Earth's magnetic(geomagnetic) field is a key input to the calculation of wellbore location, but it is known to vary with geographical location and as a function of time.Confidence Limits Associated With Values of the Earth's Magnetic Field Used for Directional Drilling describes updated uncertainties for magnetic MWD survey-tool-error models. The use of these revised geomagnetic uncertainty values in the MWD-error model will reduce wellbore-position uncertainty. The authors state the uncertainties presented here are more robust than any computed previously and should be incorporated into implementations of the Industry Steering Committee on Wellbore Surveying Accuracy error model as soon as possible.

General Drilling

In the last issue of SPE Drilling & Completion, we published a paperthat described engineering aspects of the same innovative systemdiscussed in our next paper. This second paper, in a series of two, describes operational aspects of the system. Under-Rig-Floor Openhole Loggingin the Gulf of Thailand: Operational Implementation of the Oil Industry's First Simultaneous Openhole Wireline Logging and Drilling Operation covers the processes used to implement the new system and inherent risks and benefits of each operational phase.

Different Methods To Avoid Annular Pressure Buildup by Appropriate Engineered Sealant and Applying Best Practices (Cementing and Drilling)recounts the development of a "resilient" cement slurry for high-pressure gas injection wells in the UAE as an alternative to foamed cement. This paper gives an enlightening discussion of the laboratory properties used for cement slurries in high-pressure wells. The alternative slurry has been applied in more than a dozen gas-injection wells in the UAE.

Formate drilling fluids are used in some high-pressure/high-temperaturewells because of their ability to preserve functionality of conventionalpolymers at a high temperature. One problem with formate drilling fluids is efficient cleanup of "internal" filter cake. An Optimized Method To Remove Filter Cake Formed by Formate-Based Drill-In Fluid in Extended-Reach Wells describes a new class of esters that form an acid downhole, effectively removing both external and internal filter cakes and improving return permeability.

Everyone agrees that whirl is a bad thing. Many publications prove thedeleterious effect of "backward" or counterclockwise whirl. Severalpublications have demonstrated that extending the gauge length of bits can reduce harmful effects of whirl. However, the industry continues to debate the effect of extended gauge bits on steerability of directional drilling systems,particularly for different designs (push and point) of rotary steerable systems. Maintaining Steerability While Extending Gauge Length To Manage Whirl provides an in-depth description of one operator’s development ofbest practices for this controversial subject. The detailed explanations of underlying cause and effect put this paper in the "must read" category for anyone involved in directional drilling or drill-bit design.

That wraps up this issue. Email me  and tell me your thoughts about SPE Drilling & Completion. On behalf of our 135 TEs and 12 AEs, thank you for your continued support.

Curtis Cheatham